For fans of Hogan’s Heroes (1965-71), it is indeed fortunate that the program weathered the initial criticism and controversy, and went on to become a successful series for CBS for six seasons. Created by Bernard Fein and Albert Ruddy, Hogan’s Heroes featured Allied prisoners conducting clandestine operations from Stalag 13, a German prisoner of war (POW) camp. In the initial season, various approaches were explored. Much was learned, and changes were made that resulted in a better and funnier program. When the writers had direction, and toned down some of the over the top wackiness, the stories became more credible, and Hogan’s Heroes began to rise to new comedic heights.
The program’s wonderful ensemble cast, was headed by Bob Crane as Colonel Robert Hogan, Werner Klemperer as Luftwaffe Colonel Wilhelm Klink, and John Banner as Sergeant Hans Schultz. It was often difficult for everyone to get screen time, but the core group of POW’s, French corporal Louis LeBeau (Robert Clary), RAF corporal Peter Newkirk (Richard Dawson), and US sergeants Ben Kinchloe (Ivan Dixon), and Andrew Carter (Larry Hovis), soon developed into memorable characters. Leon Askin as General Burkhalter, evolved into a semi-regular, followed later by Howard Caine as Gestapo Major Hochstetter. With a large cast and guest stars frequently in the mix, Hogan’s Heroes featured a rich variety of acting talent, guided by a creative team that included principal writers Richard M. Powell and Laurence Marks (MASH), and directors Gene Reynolds (MASH), Bruce Bilson, and Edward Feldman, who was also executive producer.
The 1960′s was an amazing decade, full of turbulence and change. When Hogan’s Heroes debuted in 1965, World War II was only twenty years in the past, and many still had deep feelings of hurt and loss. It was understandable that some found the idea of a comedy set in a POW camp, to be offensive, or in questionable taste. Others mistakenly confused POW camps, which housed military prisoners, with the extermination camps of the Holocaust. Interestingly, actors Askin, Banner, Clary, and Klemperer, were Jews who had fled Europe to escape the Nazis.
The primetime comedy lineup in 1965, was an eclectic mix from many genres that included Gilligan’s Island, My Favorite Martian, McHale’s Navy, Bewitched, The Munsters, The Addams Family, Mr. Ed, Andy Griffith, and The Beverly Hillbillies. Also debuted in 1965 were That Girl, Get Smart, My Mother the Car, and I Dream of Jeannie. With TV comedy exploring so many wacky frontiers, why not a sitcom set in a stalag?
Allied prisoners digging tunnels were featured in The Great Escape (1963), a hugely popular film, based on real life events detailed in a book by Paul Brickhill. The film took certain liberties with the truth for dramatic purposes, and Hogan’s Heroes similarly mixed elements of fact with fiction, and then took matters to a radically ridiculous extreme, featuring an elaborate secret underground installation and tunnel system. Early on, reality was stretched a bit too far, and things got a little too loose, such as when a plane was launched from the camp, artillery guns fired happy birthday flags, and a tank vanished inside the camp. Even a parody can be taken to extremes, and adjustments were made to find an appropriate balance between reality and fantasy. When the proper framework was established, and suitable writers found, Hogan and his men could achieve almost anything short of winning the war. The relationship between the prisoners and the Germans, evolved from being a childish game of superiority, to one with a higher level of respect.
Some aspects of life in Stalag 13 that had a basis in reality, included the scarcity of food, and the importance of the Geneva Convention and Red Cross packages. POW’s typically had only their one uniform to wear. Prisoners had roll calls, faced punishment for subversive activities, and developed elaborate security and warning systems to cover their escape activities, which were typically coordinated by an escape committee. German soldiers did fear of the Russian front, and there was an `underground’ system that aided Allied soldiers.
A big part of the series was the Hogan/Kink relationship, where Hogan continuously manipulated Klink by playing on his fears, ambition and vanity. Klink was usually putty in Hogan’s hands, but those rare occasions when things did not go Hogan’s way, were usually a very interesting times. Klink’s incompetence so greatly aided the Allied cause, that it was hard to regard him as the enemy. Werner Klemperer won two Emmys for his performance In the role.
John Banner was simply magnificent as the portly Sgt. Schultz, a man with a resolve as firm as jell-o, who could be pressured or persuaded with food, into doing almost anything. Banner was perhaps the most naturally funny of anyone, and often got many…
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I received an advance copy of this set and it’s spectacular and is reason for any Hogan’s fan to be excited, unless of course you already shelled out money for the earlier releases.
Packaged together for the first time, the 28-disc set includes all six seasons of the smash-hit series, as well as an arsenal full of extras including home movies, bloopers and audio commentaries. The set will also contain an entire disc of new to DVD special features, including an extended version of the pilot with rare introduction, a new cast interview with Richard Dawson and a photo montage including unseen images set to a performance of the show’s theme song by Bob Crane and his band. Brand new “Kommandant Rank” graphics and packaging have been designed for this special set.
Garnering two Emmy nominations for his role, Bob Crane stars as Colonel Hogan, who together with his fellow Prisoners of War at Stalag 13 cleverly outwit their German captors. Firing off a non-stop string of one-liners from behind enemy lines, the ragtag team – including
Richard Dawson, Robert Clary and Larry Hovis – lead a relentless comic assault on their Nazi captors, conducting espionage and sabotage campaigns right under the noses of their warders. While the enemy is often gullible, easily fooled or downright incompetent, the real strength of Hogan’s men are the elaborate ruses and sometimes dangerous lengths they will go to complete their mission. Werner Klemperer earned back-to-back Emmy awards for his role as the German Colonel Wilhelm Klink. Airing from 1965 through 1971, HOGAN’S HEROES garnered three Emmy nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series.
HOGAN’S HEROES THE KOMPLETE SERIES, KOMMANDANT’S KOLLECTION arrives armed with a disc of new to DVD material, including:
A new interview with Richard Dawson, who played Corporal Peter Newkirk
An extended version of the pilot episode “The Informer,” with a very rare network introduction
A segment from Hollywood Palace, featuring the cast of Hogan’s Heroes
Audio of the HOGAN’S HEROES theme song performed by Bob Crane and his band accompanied by a special photo montage of images from the show and numerous rare behind-the-scenes photographs
Clip from CBS’ 1965 Fall Preview Show, “Seven Wonderful Nights”
Two series promos
A new interview with Albert S. Ruddy, Co-Creator
Digital version of “Hokum’s Heroes” parody from Mad Magazine
1968 and 1969 Emmy Awards: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Werner Klemperer clips
German dubbed episode with alternate dialogue track, created for German broadcast television which ultimately turned HOGAN’S HEROES from a flop into a hit show in Germany, with Albert S. Ruddy introduction. English subtitles also provided.
The 28-disc set is presented in full screen format with English Restored Mono.
I currently own Hogan’s Heroes SEPARATE season box sets. Picture quality is good, better than the Columbia House. Recently, I saw the box at my local Best Buy. Had to take a look. On the box, in VERY small print, they state that some content is edited. Translation…..syndicated episodes. When are they going to stop this madness? Is it bad enough they are “sweetening” this box by having a disc that is not available nowhere else but in this box, and then…….cutting episodes? I have looked for someone to write to about this but no luck. Until these problems are resolved, I’ll live with my single box sets and wonder what I’m missing on the bonus disc.
Shout! Factory put out Season 1 of Mr. Ed with EIGHT syndicated episodes. They “rectified” the problem with Season 2 coming out with NO syndicated shows. How about #1? Is this a trend? Do they think we’re stupid? I like to own this stuff, but I want to get what I pay for. Syndicated episodes are NOT complete, and should not be part of season or complete series box sets.